Gregg Hart’s public service career is going “full circle” as he leaves the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors for Sacramento, where he’ll serve as a state Assemblyman.
Hart has served one term representing the Second District on the Board of Supervisors and won the Assembly seat in the Nov. 8 election. In unofficial results, he had garnered 58% of the vote against Mike Stoker for the 37th District seat.
“I can honestly say that in the last four years I learned the most important lessons of my life,” Hart said. “The first day after the election, I was asked to go to Sacramento on a big speakership fight. There was a lot of drama in the room, and it was very revealing. I think I learned more in six hours about my colleagues than I will in six months.”
At his last meeting on Tuesday, his board colleagues heaped praise on Hart as a calm, steady collaborator.
“Gregg has always been the measured voice for us,” Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said. “We were just lucky that … Gregg was chair during COVID, and his style was just perfect for the time.”
Hart was one of the county’s main spokespeople during the first year of the pandemic and hosted weekly informational briefings with Public Health staff.
“You were an awesome partner during our press conferences,” said Van Do-Reynoso, the county’s former Public Health director. “You are the embodiment of diplomacy and kindness.”
Supervisor Joan Hartmann said Hart “bestowed dignity and a touch of class to our board proceedings” and told him to come visit often.
“Gregg doesn’t have any harsh critics. I wish I knew what that was like, but I don’t,” Lavagnino said. “I just hope that you’re able to go to Sacramento and have your style rub off on Sacramento as much as it’s rubbed off on us.”
Supervisor Bob Nelson said the board is a team and Hart has been its captain.
“Sometimes my vote was brought over because of your kindness,” Nelson said.
Supervisor Das Williams praised Hart for his vision.
“I’ve seen you time and time again have the political courage to look at what people need in the long run in your district, in the county,” he said, “and not being sort of changing with the wind on where the majority of people who show up on any given day are.”
Hart worked as a legislative assistant for Assemblyman Jack O’Connell from 1985 to 1991, so his return to the legislature shows his career going full circle, the Board of Supervisors wrote in a resolution. Hart later served on the Santa Barbara Planning Commission and City Council and worked on the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments staff.
During his last meeting Tuesday, he thanked his fellow supervisors, county staff and his Second District staff members — two of whom will stay on with his Second District supervisor successor, Laura Capps.
“I can tell you as calm as I appear here, I’m not so calm in that office,” he said. “They’ve always helped me get in the calm place that I think is the right place to be as an elected official.”
The Second District includes unincorporated areas of the eastern Goleta Valley, Isla Vista, UC Santa Barbara, and parts of Goleta and Santa Barbara.